Why Brand Matters: Best Practices from Korrio


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Does your soccer club, team or town have a brand?

Chances are, you haven’t given much thought to the concept. Most soccer coaches, team managers and volunteers are overly busy people, juggling numerous tasks and concerns. Strategizing about branding might not exactly top their to-do lists.

Luckily, you can read this guide for steps and best practices you can implement for building a brand.

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Why Brand Matters: Best Practices from Korrio

  1. 1. Why Brand Matters:Best Practices from Korrio
  2. 2. Why Brand MattersDoes your soccer club, team or town have a or combination of these elements). Brand alsobrand? personifies company or product philosophy, situating it in relation to its key constituencies –Chances are, you haven’t given much thought to customers, staff, partners, investors and the widerthe concept. Most soccer coaches, team managers community.and volunteers are overly busy people, jugglingnumerous tasks and concerns. Strategizing about USYS is just one organization that’s recentlybranding might not exactly top their to-do lists. embraced branding and marketing. President DavidOut of 55 state-level U.S. Youth Soccer (USYS) Messersmith reports it’s been an overwhelminglyorganizations nationwide, for instance, only four positive move, taking the national organizationstates have dedicated individuals assigned to to a higher level of professionalism. “Our coremarketing. business is and always has been to serve our state associations in the business of administering andBut this is a missed opportunity. Building a developing youth soccer in their respective states,”successful and reputable soccer organization is he said. “This initiative is the end of one era and theabout more than wins and losses on the field. The beginning of another. Two years ago, we discussedexperts – the coaches and administrators who’ve marketing; last year we funded and hired a capablegrown leagues from grassroots community clubs to marketing staff; now we have funded a marketinglarge regional organizations – know there’s more to initiative to enhance and promote existing programsit. They know that branding and marketing are key while building brand awareness and increasingelements in any successful club’s game plan. sponsorship revenue at all levels into the future.”So what exactly is a brand? All clubs want to improve and grow through increased membership, community support andInterpreting the American Marketing Association’s financial resources. A well-crafted brand is adefinition, brand is the personality that identifies powerful tool that can help accomplish ambitiousa product, service or company and differentiates organizational goals. Goals such as building a newit from the goods of other sellers (as expressed turf field or a concessions stand at your facility. Athrough a name, term, sign, symbol, design brand tells the larger community who you are and
  3. 3. Brand is the personality that identifies a product, service or company and differentiates it from the goods of other sellers (as expressed through a name, term, sign, symbol, design or combination of these elements). Brand also personifies company or product philosophy, situating it in relation to its key constituencies – customers, staff, partners, investors and the wider community.helps attract like-minded members and supporters These activities are important for branding theto your organization. Competition amongst youth organization and creating awareness. Experienceorganizations for in-town field space is a growing shows a well-built brand can help organizationsconcern. Losing members to emerging clubs is recruit the best players, coaches and volunteers,another challenge. Branding can be the powerful lead successful fundraising campaigns, buildfirst step towards securing membership and community and elevate the level of play. In the end,community visibility. all of those attributes create a richer and more positive experience for our valuable youth players.There are a number of best practices and strategiessoccer organizations and clubs can implement tobuild a winning team off the field, as well as on.
  4. 4. You Represent YourCommunityCreating a brand for your club, town or team is an the process as if you were developing a productexciting, creative proposition. It’s a chance to tell and identifying customers. Start by thinkingyour story to the world. An opportunity to define who through your mission and values. Brainstorm onyou are and what you believe in and then run with your marketing, communications and financialit. Whether you’re a competitive, premier club or a objectives and suss out what sets you apart fromfamily-oriented recreational club, your organization any competitors. Are you a highly competitivecan benefit from a strong brand. A brand builds club or recreational? Focused on education andtrust, it’s a commitment internally and externally skills or committed to winning? Known for yourto a unique identity and set of principles. And it’s commitment to social service, strong parentexpressed through every facet of your organization – involvement, teaching or stellar sportsmanship?from your logo design to your staff. What strengths do you want to emphasize?As Washington Premier Football Club President Identify your top three goals and then relentlesslyJeff Harper sees it, “Brand is what conveys your align your actions with these aims. Every actionclub identity. Washington Premier teams play at item or plan should be assessed through this prism:the highest competitive level of soccer. We’re is it on message? On brand? Don’t allow your teamabout excellence in everything we do – from player to get distracted with efforts and ideas that are notdevelopment to community service.” in-line with your core organizational goals.Brand gives your product – in this case, your soccer Once you know who you are, you should createclub or team – “definition and personality,” says a Brand Guide to get everyone on your teamformer Microsoft CFO and Nike and Korrio Board – coaches, managers, parent volunteers, evenMember John Connors. “Every aspect of branding players – on the same page. Your message mustis important to telling a concise message to a broad be consistent, from the top down. Everyone mustaudience. There is a magic chemistry that occurs tell the same story.when brand aligns with a superior product.” What’s in your Brand Guide? This is a marketingCreating a brand is easier than you think; it simply toolbox that contains – at the basic level – therequires self-knowledge, thought and some following: a logo design, design and font choices,strategic work. It is helpful in this regard to think your colors, your mission statement and yourof your organization as a business, and approach “Elevator Speech,” the 15-second explanation
  5. 5. everyone in your club will give when asked what The pride and self-respect that players – and byyour organization is about. Your guide should also extension, their families – draw from being part ofcontain your “Boilerplate,” a few paragraphs of a tight, well-branded organization is immeasurable;official language that explain your organization it elevates the whole game. Everyone’s mindsetssuccinctly. This statement may appear in the About expand from the play on the field, to the strategyUs section of your website and should be included off the field. Everyone feels part of something largerat the bottom of all public documents, such as and that feeling of belonging encourages strongerpress releases and partnership proposals. commitment. Player, family and staff relationships grow through dedication to shared ideals and goals,Creating a Brand Guide is a process that your and the experience becomes more rewarding forentire leadership team should participate in; everyone involved.there should be consensus, so everyone deliversthe agreed-upon message with passion andcommitment. Everyone on your team shouldchampion your brand. What’s in Your Brand Guide?Your brand is also expressed through your team’s Logo designappearance, from the coaches to the players.Assess your uniforms, bags, coach jerseys and even Colorsballs to present a cohesive, neat and professional Font choiceslook. Premier teams plan every detail, down to theirsocks. The more thought you give to every element Taglineof your presentation, the more effectively you’ll Mission statementcommunicate your brand. Ideally, if you’re successful Elevator speechin your branding campaign, your colors and logo willbecome widely recognized in your community. In this Boilerplatearena, a little bit of branding goes a long way. You Websitecan look like a million dollars for a small cash outlay.It’s more about thought, planning, organization and Communication outlineconsistency than the size of your budget.
  6. 6. Your Reputation MattersOnce you identify who you are and plan how at every level. Does your current reputation helpyou’re going to communicate your message, you draw coaches, players and volunteers?take a step back and assess your reputation inthe community. Reputations can be intangible, in People talk, especially in smaller communities.terms of how they are formed, but they are very Teams with reputations for dirty tactics and poorreal and they shape who your organization attracts sportsmanship will not attract upstanding players,and the expectations of your players and their families and staff.parents. Building strong characteristics on and offthe field is also key to developing young soccer Think about your reputation and whether itplayers into good citizens. accurately reflects your brand. If you’re not sure how you’re perceived, ask your players’ parents orTake another run through your self-assessment; other knowledgeable people in your community forhow are you perceived by your community and an honest assessment. Your reputation is crucialtarget members? Is your club fun or competitive? for developing and maintaining the integrity of yourPerceived as affordable or expensive? Well- brand. Is your reputation where it needs to be? Ororganized or low-tech? Characterized by good does it need some work?sportsmanship? Are you known for sending playerson to higher levels of play? How are your coachesperceived? They are key to your brand. Yourreferees are also crucial. Are they reputed to be fair,knowledgeable and professional?Have you had any negative incidents, and if so– how did you handle them? Are you trying torebuild your reputation or improve a reputationthat has been damaged? If so, you need to thinkstrategically about how the message you’vecreated – through your Brand Guide – can helpyou re-establish a positive reputation in yourcommunity. The quality of your reputation is crucial,because it will shape who your organization attracts
  7. 7. Families Are YourCustomersNext, look at your membership numbers. Are you an unwieldy process that requires parents to signgrowing? Do you have to spend aggressively to up in-person or mail forms, you could be drivingmarket your club through advertising or does your less-committed parents and players away. This isbrand naturally draw people to you? Obviously, the where automation can be extremely useful. Mostlatter is preferable. A good brand sells itself and people are now accustomed to doing businesssavvy marketers know that word-of-mouth is more online; many even expect that option and arepowerful than any paid advertising. frustrated and suspicious when they can’t. Online sports automation platforms, such as Korrio, canNow that you’ve really thought through your brand provide a user-friendly one-stop home for all club– your message, goals and reputation – you can business, including registration and payments. Andassess whether you’re attracting members. And are we all know busy parents love anything that makesthey “your kind of people?” When you know who their lives easier and allows them to completeyou are, you know what kind of players you’d ideally cumbersome tasks more quickly. So take a look atlike to attract. Broadcasting your message to the your system. Do you need an upgrade?community will ensure that you reach and attractyour preferred player demographic – whether it’s Remember, too, that retaining loyal members ishighly-competitive or fun-loving. as important as bringing in new ones. It does no good to bring new members into your organizationAgain, make sure people can find you easily online, if current members are leaving in equal measure.with a well-designed and current website. Anyone Look at your numbers. What’s the big picture? A lotwho hears good things about your club should of effort is spent on building young athletes, but thebe able to Google you and have your site up in reality is that by the U-10 or U-11 level, kids start toa few easy clicks. A solid website makes your drop out. As the play becomes more competitive,organization look professional, something people less skilled or committed players might leave. Whatwant to be part of. can your club offer players and families who are on- the-fence? A strong, community-building brand canAt this point, you should also consider your be a powerful motivator to stay involved.registration process and whether it discourages orencourages new members. If you’re hanging on to
  8. 8. Brand is what conveys your club identity. Washington Premier teams play at the highest competitive level of soccer. We’re about excellence in everything we do – from player development to community service. Washington Premier Football Club President Jeff HarperIt doesn’t take much to make families feel valued, Your club should look for ways to support the entireit’s the little things. Coaches and managers should child, recognizing their lives outside soccer. There’s ancommunicate with parents, drawing them into opportunity here to influence the entire family and parentsthe organization. Updates, notes and even little are swayed positively by organizations that support theirgestures like recognizing players’ birthdays or children and promote their overall well-being. And loyal,reaching out to siblings can make families feel supportive parents can make or break your organization.plugged in and cared for. With the technology weall have readily available these days – texts, emails,cell phones and team websites – it’s easier thanever to stay connected and communicate withplayers and parents.
  9. 9. More Money, MoreResourcesA solid brand also helps you raise more money on How to do Basic Media Relationsa number of levels, as everyone is more excited to Assign a staffer or volunteer to media outreachsupport an organization that appears professional, Obtain parents’ permission to use players’tight and goal-oriented. Parents are more likely to sign photos (all players should have a signed phototheir kids up for – and pay the necessary fees to – release form on file)teams and clubs that offer the most value. Make a list of local newspapers and websites that publish community photos and newsLikewise, local businesses are eager to support Call the news organizations to find out whoclubs and teams with solid reputations. A well-designed website with room to plug your sponsors handles photo submissions, calendar andis a big plus, as is finding ways to include your event listings and news items (these may besponsors in branding or media opportunities. Think different people)about the value proposition you present to local Assign a parent or volunteer to shoot high-businesses that support your club and make sure resolution photos at games and eventsyou are communicating your message to potential Email photos to identified news contacts, alongsupporters. If you are a nonprofit, make sure your with captions that include full player names,community knows about your status. This will help ages, hometowns and event details (date,you elicit donations from fans, parents and even place, name of the event, etc.)charitable organizations; remind all donors that Follow-up to make sure photos are receivedyou’re a tax write-off. Assign staffers or parent volunteers the task of writing press releases, calendar listings,Creating and conveying a strong brand has served event and registration announcements andWashington Premier Football Club in very tangible news itemsways, reports President Jeff Harper. “WPFC had Email written releases and announcementsbeen able to attract sponsors because our brandattributes of excellence, fun and service align with to identified contacts at local newspapersour sponsor aspirations,” he said. “We’re passionate and websitesabout what we do and put a lot of energy into If you have a larger story – a player featuremarketing our program.” or extraordinary news – propose it to local newspaper and web reporters via short, concise email “pitch” letters
  10. 10. Every aspect of branding is important to telling a concise message to a broad audience. There is a magic chemistry that occurs when brand aligns with a superior product. Nike and Korrio Board Member John ConnorsRecruiting the BestA strong brand is a powerful recruitment tool, generously-donated time. They often work 25-plushelping you attract the best players and coaches. hours per week in community soccer organizations,Again, if you’re known for highly-skilled, competitive so honor their time and make that commitmentplay, those players will be drawn to your club. count. These are influential individuals – volunteerLikewise, quality coaches will gravitate towards coaches, for instance – who wield vast power on theclubs and teams they know will support their field. The quality of your coaching will literally dictatephilosophies and strategies. whether your young players enjoy the sport. And the lessons they learn in youth soccer – positive orWhether working to attract the best paid coaches negative – can last a lifetime.for your premier-level club or recruiting themost committed and caring volunteers for your From a pragmatic standpoint, again, a strong brandrecreational club, your brand should bring “your will also help you raise more money. So if you’repeople” to you. If you’re having trouble recruiting looking to recruit sought-after paid coaches, you’llthe staff you want – paid or volunteer – ask have additional resources to do so.yourself why such people would want to join yourorganization. Then make sure you’re telling thatstory to your community and professional andpersonal networks.Excited, inspired leaders attract people who wantto work together on shared goals – enthusiastic,hard-working people who want to join quality teamswith excellent reputations and efficient organization.They want to be part of something reputable, strongand growing. You can attract the right staff andvolunteers by creating buzz and convincing themyou have a solid game plan. Organize and mobilizethem according to their interests and expertise.Volunteers are looking for fulfilling experiences withwell-run organizations that make good use of their
  11. 11. Visibility BreedsRespectDoes your community know you exist? Do you be reckoned with and that affiliating with youenjoy the support you need to thrive and build? could bring them positive recognition. It createsMake sure you’re using the local media to help team and community pride, showing local youthcommunicate your message to people outside doing something positive and fun. (A majoryour direct circle of players and families. While the complaint often voiced about the media is that notwords “media plan” might sound intimidating, it’s enough good news is featured.) And it providesnot hard to fire up an ongoing media effort. It’s just your players and their families with invaluablea matter of finding out who at your local daily or recognition – newspaper clippings they’ll keep forweekly newspapers and websites handle photos a lifetime. These are all outcomes worth investingand news items, and then submitting material to a little extra staff or volunteer time in.them on a regular basis. Your website is also an invaluable tool forThis is an excellent task for an ambitious parent spreading your message – it can’t be stressedvolunteer. To get started, all that’s needed is enough. It is your face to the world. If you don’tsomeone to take high-resolution photos at games have a website already, create one. A strong onlineand events and then email them to local papers presence is imperative for brand identity in thiswith “caption” information, which includes the day and age. Your “customers” – players and theirfull names and ages of all players – along with families – will expect this of you. And if you don’tthe town they live in – and details about the deliver, they might conclude your organization isgame (the who, what, when and where factoids not professional, up-to-date and together. Yourthat all news items must include). You can also website is where your players and parents will looksend press releases with news about your team, for real-time information and updates on a numbercalendar listings and announcements regarding of topics, so it must be easy to administer andregistration and events to your local newspapers update. You don’t want maintaining your site to beand news websites. an unwieldy chore. Look for current web hosting technology with user-friendly and intuitive tools forThis might seem like extra work, but it easy editing and updating.accomplishes important goals. It raises yourprofile in the community, showing donors and Last, but not least – communicate, communicate,local businesses that you’re an organization to communicate. Make sure everyone is aware of
  12. 12. The most important component of brand is the Customer Experience. Working hand in glove with your customers will create a truly differentiated and remarkable experience for coaches, players and fans to build your unique brand. Former Nike, Reebok, Starbucks leader and Korrio Advisor, Martin Colesyour success and progress. Strive to make your What’s on a Well-Branded Website?entire organization feel connected and part of alarger soccer community, geared towards making Your logo and colorschildren successful on the field and at home. Events calendar“The most important component of brand is the Contact informationCustomer Experience. Working hand in glove with Registration and season timeframesyour customers will create a truly differentiatedand remarkable experience for coaches, players Information on how to registerand fans to build your unique brand,” says former Photo galleryNike, Reebok, Starbucks leader and Korrio Information on volunteer and sponsorshipAdvisor, Martin Coles. opportunitiesRemember, building, maintaining and growing News updatesa successful soccer organization or club is aperpetual effort. Establishing a strong brand can Boilerplate (About Us)help ease some of these challenges. Know too, Mission statementthat you don’t need to take all of these steps atonce. Pick a few ideas to strengthen your brand – Coaching staff biossay, writing a mission statement, designing a logo Sponsor recognitionor improving your website – and start there. Youcan continue to build on your brand as you have Coaching tipsthe time and resources. PoliciesAnd don’t fear failure. If something doesn’t work,move on and try something else. Turn it around BRAND WORKSHOPSquickly and recover, just like you’d coach your Yet another way we are redefining youth sports automation.players to do on the field. Korrio members have access to free brand workshops. Contact Kristina today to learn more -- kristina@korrio.com Kristina O’Connell, Korrio VP of Marketing Kristina has 20+ years driving global brand recognition & marketing strategy. more sport | less hassle 1943 1st Avenue, South Seattle, WA 98134 www.korrio.com info@korrio.com